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Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. Bridge in Birmingham to restrict vehicle traffic

Birmingham's Rainbow Bridge closing to cars
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 4:34 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 11:00 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. Bridge, or the rainbow bridge, that connects First Avenue South to First Avenue North in Birmingham will restrict vehicle access beginning Friday, January 21, 2022.

“The steps we are taking today are intended to be proactive out of an abundance of caution just to prevent any further deterioration. It should be useful for sometime going forward for pedestrians and so we’re going to continue to monitor it closely,” James Fowler, director of the Birmingham’s Transportation Department said.

City leaders said the condition of the more than 100-year-old bridge has deteriorated over time. As one of the lowest rated bridges in the state, the city has regularly monitored its condition.

The bridge has a 3-ton weight limit and continues to be used by heavy vehicles, which is the primary source of concern for the structure.

In 2019, the city launched an awareness campaign, adding more signage concerning the 3-ton weight limit, increased police patrols and contacted various organizations to encourage membership to limit use of the bridge by heavy vehicles. The continued lack of compliance with the weight limit has led to the city’s decision to close the bridge to vehicles.

Pedestrians can safely continue to use the bridge. Bicycle and scooter use will also be allowed.

Motorists can access downtown from the south by using alternative routes via 20th and 24th Streets. Closure begins at 6 a.m. Friday.

The city’s Department of Transportation has hired a firm which is midway through design phase of a replacement for the bridge. The city is also considering funding options for the replacement. Once a design plan is complete, the public will have the opportunity to review the design.

City councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who also chairs the transportation committee says this decision is a better than safe than sorry one.

“I think this is the best course of action just to prevent some disaster God forbid. It’s been a serious concern for several years. Literally if you go underneath the bridge you can see where chunks of concrete have fallen off,” O’Quinn said.

With all the infrastructure talk in DC taking place, this bridge is where O’Quinn says some of that money could be used.

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